Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really? | High Sierra Topix  

Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby ereinys » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:15 pm

It is only on the popular trails that you have to plug your nose. Although I'm not happy about the conditions you ran into, I am happy that the bulk of the traffic stays in certain popular areas in the Sierra because that leaves the bulk of the backcountry fairly pristine.


I wish this were true. When I am on the JMT or other high traffic trails, I am not terribly surprised when I see signs of human impact---trash, unburied human waste, soap bubbles in the water, somebody's uneaten Ramen noodles at the lake edge, etc. What I find most heartbreaking though is when I find these same signs of human impact far off-trail. One of my favorite things about traveling cross country is the sense that you are seeing a place that very few others have visited. I also love not having to purify my drinking water.

Last July, while hiking the section of the SHR between N. Glacier Pass and Tuolumne, I was reveling in the apparent "pristine" quality of Bench Canyon. No sooner were the words out of my mouth, I was horrified to encounter a giant pile of unburied human poo in a sandy patch perhaps 50 feet from where we had pitched our tent complete with a equally giant wad of T.P. Granted, one has to work pretty hard to get to Bench Canyon----there is no easy way in or out. It absolutely killed me that someone who had the backpacking chops to get to a place such as Bench Canyon could be so lazy, ignorant and self-absorbed. Over the years, I've sadly found lots of soap bubbles eddied out in backcountry streams and lakes. I think, perhaps, some people take the "biodegradable" label on their Camp Suds a bit too literally and wash themselves and their pots directly in the stream. So, I totally get the rant of the original poster. I share your pain.



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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby richlong8 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:51 am

Whitney would be a beautiful area to hike in the summer, if it wasn't for the people!
Along with others, I just avoid the most popular places. Which is a blessing in disguise, because generally, the places off the beaten path are in nice shape, just as beautiful, and you have them to yourselves.

My own rant: yes, the populace can be rulebreakers in the wilderness, and it bugs the heck out of me!
but I can't be holier than thou about it.
Afterall, how many of us ignore the speed limits, fudge on our taxes, cheat, lie, and otherwise break laws and rules when we want to, and think we can get away with it? (myself included)
And our national leaders! They are the most corrupt, dishonest, lawless group of thugs to ever rule this country. Of course, the people are not going to take the rules seriously.
Yes, I wish they would follow leave no trace. but until that utopian day arrives, I will try and avoid the trails most traveled the best I can. :-({|=
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby Crossdrew » Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:03 pm

For the last 6 years my pal & I have used LLamas to carry our equipment and what that means is that we can pick up garbage on our way out. We do so because we love the Sierra and we did it when we were carrying it on our backs, but now we can feel virtuous while the llamas do the work. :nod: We all should pick up whatever trash we can carry. Try to remember that we need a lot of people to be invested in preserving the Sierra and that means gently educating Newbies. While Cheryl Strayed may have encourages less-than-ready folks to try the PCT, she did succeed in exciting interest in hiking. - LLamalady
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:12 am

iHartMK wrote:It's all of those LA & Orange County people. Last weekend I came across 4 tents about 3 feet from waters edge while walking around Jennie Lake. When I asked them where they were from, they said the Los Angeles area... of course. Is there no mountains down south?? Then Sunday after they left I walked through their camp, fire was still smoking and their trash was still there. SMH


I'm not here to point the finger at any regional people, Jimr. :)

I've hiked the wilderness up north and I've hiked the wilderness down south and there is a very noticeable difference. Desolation Wilderness is pristine compared to what one finds say, in the Cottonwood Lakes region. Cigarette butts??? Really??? At 11,000 feet???

It could be that some people in the north pack out more of the trash left by others in the north. I don't know. I'm just sharing my observation.

JMHO,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby Jimr » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:12 am

No offense taken, not even by iHartMK. It's the word "ALL" that throws up the issue :unibrow: It's not all of us, but granted there is a large population down here who think nothing of leaving the place a shambles when they're done with their fun. Just go out into our local mountains and compare it to anywhere in the Sierra. Especially within walking distance of a parking area. Our mountains are treated more like a local park where somebody else will clean up the mess. In fact, I'm fairly sure it is often not given a second thought.

Certainly, the more local communities see the Sierra as their back yard rather than a local party venue. I wish more of us "big city" folks had that same attitude.
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby Jimr » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:53 pm

Just wanted to add that I think Warren made an excellent point in his last paragraph regarding user stats. I guess I don't pay much attention to stats.
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby dave54 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:45 pm

I do not blame any class of people or geographic origin. I have seen Sierra Club groups leave a campsite trashed, with human waste on the ground and a fire left smoldering.

There is a certain amount of bad element in every strata of visitor use. Popular areas get more trashed because they get more use. If you want clean and pristine you must get off trail into the unknown areas. There is a certain mindset among many backpackers that if it is not a Wilderness or National Park it is not worth going there, driving by some excellent backcountry opportunities because it is 'merely' general multi-use forest.

Even in the popular Wilderness and NPs, hike more than 1-2 miles in and you see decreasing impact. Get 10 miles in and human sign gets hard to find. Turn 90 degrees and hike 100 yards off trail and you are transported back in time to 3 centuries ago. Surveys of back country users show use is declining, and the average age is increasing. You see very few 20-somethings anymore. Far enough in and all you see us us old farts who, as a group, tend to be more conscious about our impacts and traces.

On a semi-related note: Ethnically, back country users tend to be white, with western and northern European ancestry. Rarely see a black, Hispanic, or Asian more than 5 miles in. Or even eastern European. Forest Service and NPS have repeatedly tried to get more minorities interested in backcountry recreation, with poor results. Cultural thing, I guess.
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby zacjust32 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:23 pm

You could almost put the usage and misuse rates in terms of the "Broken Window Theory", which states that vandalism and lawlessness propagate when left unchecked. This means that when people see trash and others camping near water, they are much more likely to do so and after a while may see this as the norm. We can put a direct stop to this by ending the cycle using techniques already mentioned: pick up trash, tell others not to cut switchbacks, be a kind yet firm voice advocating for the conservation of nature.

On the note of usage declining within the younger generation, I think that topic has been well discussed HERE
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Re: Trash, trash, more trash, and wag bags - really?

Postby alc101ma » Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:53 pm

dave54 wrote:On a semi-related note: Ethnically, back country users tend to be white, with western and northern European ancestry. Rarely see a black, Hispanic, or Asian more than 5 miles in. Or even eastern European. Forest Service and NPS have repeatedly tried to get more minorities interested in backcountry recreation, with poor results. Cultural thing, I guess.


The NYTimes had a recent article about this fact. I spend most of my time in the Desolation Wilderness and I've seen a few asians out on the mountains but never any other "minorities."

Compare this experience to a day at any of the Tahoe ski resorts. It's a MUCH more diverse mix and in particular I see a lot of Asians. It's much more representative of the demographics of the SF metro area. I suppose maybe it's because one activity is considered cool/hip (skiing, snowboarding) while the other is not... though Wild could change that.
Hiking and camping in the Bay Area and up the Pacific coast. Backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Catching backcountry trout. I write articles, stories, guides, and how to's for exploring the outdoors. http://www.loveto.camp
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